I'm running down the narrow sand pathway and looking at the debris in the yellowish half dead grass alongside it. I have been running for a while...
„Help me! I'm searching for my son?... Has somebody seen a little boy with dark gray eyes?... Honey? Where are you?... Please! … Somebody, please,help me!“
People stare at me for a second and look away. Some never look at me at all. Nobody says a word. I keep running down the narrow sand path and searching, still holding my bag with ointments. I see parts of the ship, books, luggage, bottles – all kinds of debris until I hear the heartbreaking whimper. I stop and look around. It should be right next to me… a bit to the left, maybe? I look more closely and see it amidst the garbage – a little body – naked, twisted, bent in two, hugging his own knees. A little body so fragile, all skin and bone... from starvation... Huge dark gray eyes looking straight ahead.
“Oh, God! Let me not be too late! Please, I ran here as fast as I could! … Please...“
I feel the last of my tears dry on my face. I have no tears, no more strength to cry and curse, I just want my boy to live! To see again the familiar cheeky little smile on his white and handsome face...
The news reached me while traveling out of town. I had allowed my little one to go on a school trip with his best friend while I was tending to cattle a few villages over. I had packed him the proper blue shorts and shirts, a little hat, food rations and instructed him to be a good boy and take care of his friend. I brought him to the ship and he was so excited! To see the sea and the sky, to sail towards the horizon, to watch the dolphins play, to spend his summer with his friends... All had been OK for the first couple of days and then a storm descended on them. My little one had been singing a lullaby in our native tongue as his friends could not sleep. The storm was severe and hit unexpectedly. The boys went on deck to try and help couple of children as they were trapped there. His best friend fell overboard. The thunder and lightning, where the sea was struck, left a path of light and destruction. Almost as soon as the storm died out the other children started calling my son a witch and the teachers took swift measures – they locked him up with no food for days and when the second storm hit, nobody tried to help him. He cried and begged and mourned his best friend and drank rain water to survive. When he washed ashore they left him there with the debris… for dead. And now all these people searching for things did not help him, did not help me finding him.
I kneel down and take the little body in my arms. He is so thin! His breathing is so weak it almost cannot be felt or heard. His huge gray-black eyes stare into nothing and do not see me.
The day is warm but gray, the sky is heavy with dark clouds that promise another storm. The air is heavy with tension and human fear.
“I'm here my little one…„ - I whisper and hug tighter and tighter. I give him a sip of my water flask and start rocking him in my arms like I did when he was a baby. He sighs and closes his eyes.
„Mommy is here and I will not let you suffer my dearest one!“ - I get his blanket out and cover his naked legs and chest. I try my best to keep him warm and slowly stand up.
I start walking down the path to where the trains should be. People are now looking intensely at me and trying to avoid me, stepping back and making the sign of the cross at me. You idiots! My son is not a witch but if you want one – I can give you one!
I stop for a breath. I keep hugging my little one tight and feel his body relaxing in my grip. I'm here now. „Come on my little one – just another sip...“
Please, read this:
This was Petya Yaneva’s graduation short story, published here exactly as submitted.